For a town whose cultural and culinary landmarks are two hot dogs -- Pink's, for better or worse, and the Dodger Dog, also for better or worse -- the hot dog nonetheless is greatly overshadowed by its other half, the hamburger. While there may not be as many great hot dogs as there are great hamburgers in Los Angeles, they are out there, scattered across town; you could give yourself a tour of the city, really, just trying to visit them all. From the classic hot dog stands that abound on the edges of L.A. proper to the newer joints creating a new breed of dog with their hefty toppings, here are 10 of the top dogs in L.A.
Tommy's chili is a flame-orange concoction that, no matter how many napkins you have at the ready, will inevitably leave its mark somewhere on your face, shirt or shoes. It's the chili standard by which others are judged; indeed, depending on whether it's 1 p.m. or 1 a.m., the hot dog may be considered just a vessel for the chili. Which is just fine, because though the hot dog itself is good, it's the chili ladled lovingly and dripped deliciously that makes this hot dog a city institution. 2575 W. Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; (213) 389-9060.
All the dogs at Let's Be Frank are nitrite-, nitrate- and hormone-free, and all are sourced from sustainable farms. The Frank Dog, for example, is 100% California grass-fed beef, and the Brat Dog is a heritage pork bratwurst. That the dogs also are delicious is almost a bonus. Let's Be Frank serves hot dogs from a farmhouse red cart at Helms Bakery in Culver City, and makes weekly stops at Silver Lake Wine. For a complete experience, though, grab one at Golden State Cafe, where it's on the menu every day, as are the fat sweet-potato fries and nice, crisp craft pints to wash it all down. 426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 782-8331.
On a balmy January weekend, there was a woman dressed as Xena, on a lunch break from a nearby fan convention, eating a chili cheese dog at Larry's. She got a bit of chili on her chakram, but no matter; she wiped it off, threw her trash away and got back in line to order another one. "They don't have any good food there," she explained. The man in line in front of her, who works on the Warner Bros. lot, nodded. "You did good with the chili dog." Xena nodded and thought for a second. "I'm going to bring one back for my Gabby," she decided, and ordered two dogs to go. The Warrior Princess, a true hero to the last. 3122 W. Burbank Blvd., Burbank, (818) 842-0244.
Jeff's has a large number of sausages on its menu, so it's easy to scan right past innocuous listings for hot dogs and instead get stuck on items like mergez and boerewors sausages. But you'd be remiss if you did miss the all-beef and jalapeno franks: these are simple, great hot dogs, both kosher and made on-site, like everything else at Jeff's. They are hidden in plain sight, but after you have one, you'll never look past them again. 8930 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 858-8590.
Turn the page for #6, etc...